a part of a sail that is rolled and tied down to reduce the area exposed to the wind.
verb (used with object)
to shorten (sail) by tying in one or more reefs.
to reduce the length of (a topmast, a bowsprit, etc.), as by lowering, sliding inboard, or the like.
to pull (old oakum) out of seams, as with a rave hook (often followed by out).
Origin of reef2
1350–1400; Middle English refe (noun) < Dutch reefRelated formsun·reefed, adjective
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
Related Words for reefingdecelerate
Examples from the Web for reefing
Historical Examples of reefing
In reefing top-sails, the cry when the weather earing is passed.
The order for men to come in from the yards after reefing or furling.
The order to come in from the yards when reefing, furling, or other duty is performed.
Archy had several times been aloft, but had never assisted in reefing.
Do you intend to spend the remainder of the watch in reefing that topsail?
British Dictionary definitions for reefing
a ridge of rock, sand, coral, etc, the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea
a ridge- or mound-like structure built by sedentary calcareous organisms (esp corals) and consisting mainly of their remains
a vein of ore, esp one of gold-bearing quartz
Word Origin for reef
C16: from Middle Dutch ref, from Old Norse rif rib 1, reef ²
the part gathered in when sail area is reduced, as in a high wind
to reduce the area of (sail) by taking in a reef
(tr) to shorten or bring inboard (a spar)
Word Origin for reef
C14: from Middle Dutch rif; related to Old Norse rif reef, rib 1, German reffen to reef; see reef 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for reefing
1660s, "take in, roll up" (as a sail on a ship), from reef (n.2). Related: Reefed; reefing.
"rock ridge underwater," 1580s, riffe, probably via Dutch riffe, from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse rif "ridge in the sea; reef in a sail," literally "rib" (see rib (n.)).
"horizontal section of sail," late 14c. (mid-14c. in rif-rope), from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse rif "reef of a sail," probably a transferred use of rif "ridge under the sea; rib" (see rib (n.) and cf. reef (n.1)). German reff, Swedish ref, Norwegian riv, Danish reb likely all are from the Old Norse word.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Surgical reduction of the extent of a tissue by folding it and securing with sutures.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
A strip or ridge of rocks, sand, or coral that rises to or near the surface of a body of water. See more at coral reef.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.